It hasn’t always been this way, of course, but playing for the Miami Heat these days comes with outside scrutiny.
LeBron James has had to deal with it, Chris Bosh and coach Erik Spoelstra as well.
Dwyane Wade had largely been immune from what he calls noise, although since last spring, he has been the focus of more and more of it.
“You hear it at times and other times you don’t,” Wade said. “Sometimes you don’t bat an eye. Other times you may jot it down and put it on your board. It’s a part of it for us and we understand that. Ever since we came together as a team, that’s been a part of the Miami Heat.”
The Heat lost two consecutive games last week for the first time this season.
First, Miami was upset on the road by lowly Washington. Then, two days later, the Heat got rolled at home by the Knicks.
TNT analyst Charles Barkley took aim at Wade before the Knicks broadcast, saying that he isn’t the same player he once was.
Barkley also was critical of Wade during TNT’s coverage of Miami’s game against the Spurs.
Although Wade says he tunes those types of comments out, he responded by scoring 26 points in each of Miami’s following two wins.
It definitely sounds like James heard the comments about his teammate.
“It means that Charles Barkley needs to shut up,” James said after Monday’s game.
“The man has been shooting 80 percent from the floor the past couple of games — come on, man, it is crazy. That is why he is who he is. He is unbelievable.
“He is a motivated guy. All competitors get motivated when someone says something about them. He doesn’t pay much attention to it. He has heard it, I know he has. He doesn’t pay much attention to it, but he does get motivated by it.”
Wade and the rest of his teammates seem to have dealt with this round of adversity — if you can call a two-game losing streak by a defending champion in early December that — better than in the past.
Miami put its two-game losing streak to bed quickly by beating the visiting Hornets by 16 on Saturday night. On Monday, the Heat had its way with Atlanta and won by nine.
The Heat go for a three-game winning streak Wednesday against the visiting Warriors.
“When you face adversity, you like to show a little of your character,” Wade said. “We enjoy being able to respond. You don’t always do it, but it feels good when you do.”
Said James: “It’s always good to be challenged, however you’re challenged. See how you come back from it. There are lessons learned whether you win or lose. We figured out what we needed to do. We didn’t want to wait. A week later and we’re back in the right direction.”
Wade not only scored a total of 52 points in those wins, but he did so by shooting extremely well.
On Saturday, Wade hit on nine of his 12 shots.
In Monday’s win, he was a career-best 11 of 13 from the field.
“Even if we were 19-0, there would be something said. It’s not a perfect world,” Wade said.
“That keeps you going. You don’t want to drink the Kool-Aid. You want to stay focused so you don’t have nights when you lose to teams like Washington when you shouldn’t have lost that game. Having bad games keeps you focused, keeps you hungry.”• Udonis Haslem was back at practice Tuesday after missing Monday’s game with the flu.
Haslem said he’ll be ready to go Wednesday night. Mike Miller and Terrel Harris missed practice because of illness.
“I knew I was bad when I carried my son up to bed and I was out of breath,” Haslem said. “I just didn’t have it, didn’t have any energy at all.”• Norris Cole fed James for a spectacular alley-oop on Monday night thanks to Cole’s extremely high pass.
The high lob meant James had to elevate even higher above the rim before throwing the ball down in one powerful and swift move.
“Cole made me go get it for sure,” James said. “He actually took that literally when I told him, ‘Just throw it anywhere.’”
On Tuesday, Cole told The Associated Press he could have tossed the ball up even higher than he did.
“After watching it, I could have gone a little higher,” James said with a wink.
Said Wade: “If it is in the vicinity of the backboard, [James] can get it. He does surprise me sometimes with how easy it looks.”